I leave to go shoot in the desert for a weekend and all hell breaks loose! Maybe not “all hell,” but some very big news stories and endorsements. To save space and conserve topics for an entire week of entries I’ll start with the bond issue.
You may have seen the article on the polling results relating to the bond issue. If not, go here http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_5777135. Let me preface that I like the Reuel Group(pollsters). They are local political consultants and pollsters that are giving it a go. I would encourage anyone seeking office to use their services. However, they are handling some part of the bond issue committee’s campaign. The paper should have been super clear on that when reporting the results of their (Reuel Group) poll. I do think the poll is legit, but not accurate.
The bond issue is an emotional issue because it is a “children’s issue.” If you were to say publicly that you were against the bond issue you might get some bad looks. After all, you have to vote to give the money to the “children.” You’re just a big asshole if you think that maybe the schools should pull their heads out of their collective asses and spend money wisely, right? I know firsthand what it’s like to state publicly that you are against the bond issue. I was told that my house would be taken and that my company that I work for would lose all of its contracts. I don’t own the house I live in (renting) and the person making the threat couldn’t remember exactly what the company I worked for actually did. You do see how people react, though.
“Off the record” is something people say when talking to me now more than ever before. It’s hard to argue that you are not in fact a “big mouth” when you are a radio show host. A large percentage of people who indicate that their next words are going to be “off the record” tell me that they are secretly against the bond issue or children’s hospital. Most of them didn’t like how the bond package was put together or what was being financed. A majority also think that this will only lead to more bond issues and even higher taxes. The issue of the immigration status of our EPISD student body is another common theme. The kicker here is that these people admittedly pretend to be for the bond issue when they are “on the record.”
How does this tie into the polling article? Well, it’s guilt. People would rather lie to a stranger on the phone asking them about money for kids than feel the guilt of telling them that they aren’t for the bond issue. Polling experts will tell you that certain issues bring out a lot of liars. For example, when asked, “Did you vote in the last Presidential election?” around 65% of the population claim that they did in fact vote in the last election. The actual number as determined by the votes cast is closer to 50% of the population - we have 15% of the respondents that not only lie, but don’t vote either.
The finding here is that people are somewhat likely to lie in order to avoid being seen as jerk for not wanting to “fund the children” or vote in an important election. Some people feel the need to answer in the socially correct way even if they disagree with that issue or effort. That fact makes polls on issues like the bond issue tricky.
I didn’t see anywhere in the article where they mentioned who was contacted in the poll. Maybe it was in a graph in the printed version that I missed (I get the Times on line because I’m reducing my “carbond footprint” I’m down to a size 9). They did mention the margin of error, which is not as applicable in issue polling as it is in candidate polling. The MOST IMPORTANT piece of information about the poll is exactly what group of people were asked the question. Was it registered voters? Was it likely voters? Was it voters who voted in 100% of the last five elections? The numbers are worthless without that piece of information.
I’m going to assume they polled “likely voters.” Likely voters appears in quotes because it’s a loosely defined term these days. A likely voter could simply be somebody who voted in the last presidential election, which doesn’t mean they’ll ever vote in a local election. I think that they did use a likely voter sample given the results. If they had used simply registered voters the numbers who have been around 70% for the bond issue.
I don’t think their numbers are useful. This will be a low turnout election. I’d be shocked if we had anywhere near 15% turnout. That’s bad news for the bond issue. Unfortunately for the bond issue folks the people who vote in every election, ever year, are a bunch of “no people.” Happy people read the EP Times and figure that the bond issue is fine and if they forget to vote it won’t matter because 54% of El Pasoans are for the bond issue. Pissed off people vote in droves. They’re usually pissed off about their tax bills. People are always likely to vote against something that bothers them - they will make it to the polls. The pissed off people make up what I call the “100 Percenters.” These people never miss a chance to vote. In a low turnout local election like the one we have right now, they are the hurdle the bond issue must get over. Take a poll using the “100 percenters” as your universe and you’ll see completely opposite numbers. The people who are most likely to actually vote in this election are against the bond issue.
I figure that since the paper has come out in favor the bond issue they’re really trying to play this up as a good thing (poll results). If I was on that bond committee I’d be in panic mode. I’m willing to bet that there’s an actual difference of 14 percentage points from the poll’s findings. I think a lot of people gave guilty “yes” answers. I also think their polling pool was probably too large and they got way too many positive answers from people who have no intention of voting.
The bond may pass, but it’s going to be close. Judging by all the people who took the time to sit down and write letters to the editor opposing the issue, I’d say it’s in big trouble. The cheese ball commercials don’t help either. They should have hired Morris Pittle. It may be too late now.
Word of Advice: You can’t just appoint a couple of nice people who give a lot of money to charity to run your bond election effort. You have to put someone in charge who knows what they are doing. People who dabble in politics aren’t qualified to handle such high profile issues. There’s a reason some people are paid big bucks to run campaigns. But, this is El Paso and everybody seems to be a campaign expert.